Staatskapelle Dresden/Giuseppe Sinopoli
DG 463 493-2
The anticipation of something completely new by Strauss is quickly dashed
by a feeling that one has heard it all before. This Diaghilev commission
was soured and frustrated by the break with Nijinsky and the outbreak of
war soon after the 1914 Paris premiere. There was a 1947 reduced orchestration,
half length Symphonic Fragment, but it was, finally, rewarding to
hear this complete version; sumptuous music, sumptuously recorded in Dresden
by Guiseppe Sinopoli for Deutsche Grammophon, September 1999.
This is Strauss the master craftsman, deploying his well-honed skills with
a huge orchestra. There are numerous echoes of Strauss favourites in a scenario
described in detail for each of the 28 tracks, including dances for Joseph
and for women and slave girls. There are dramatic episodes involving Joseph's
seduction by Potiphar's faithless wife, who finally strangles herself as
an Archangel rescues Joseph from incipient doom in 'a brazier filled with
As in the case of Beethoven's Christus am
Ölberge, (q.v.) it is good to hear music which, familiar
though it sounds overall, is not so embedded in listening experience that
you know exactly what is coming the first time you play the CD. Not a
masterpiece, but worth collecting by Strauss-buffs.
Peter Grahame Woolf
See also reviews by Colin Andrson and Colin
Clarke who were more impressed.